Assoc. Prof. Dr. Pratiksha Baxi

Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi

Pratiksha BaxiPratiksha BaxiPratiksha Baxi

Curriculum Vitae

Dr. Pratiksha Baxi, born 1970 in Sydney, is Associate  Professor at the Centre for Law and Governance at the Jawaharlal Nehru University New Delhi (India). She obtained her doctorate degree in 2005 over a thesis on “The Social and Juridical Framework of Rape in India: Case Studies in Gurajat”, an ethnographical study on trials of rape victims at a court in Gujarat. Since 2006 Pratiksha Baxi has been teaching at the Centre for the Study of Law and Governance of the Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi. There she further heads the Law and Social Sciences Research Network (LASSnet).  In 2014 her book “Public Secrets of Law: Rape Trials in India” was published by the Oxford University Press. This courtroom ethnography brings together her interest in sociology of law, feminist theory and violence.

Prof. Dr. Baxi’s research interests include sociology of law, medical jurisprudence, ethnographies of courts, sociology of violence, gender studies, politics of judicial reform, judicial iconography, courtroom architecture, law and visual culture and feminist legal theory.

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Pratiksha Baxi was Fellow at the Käte Hamburger Center for Advanced Study in the Humanities “Law as Culture” from April to July 2017, from August to September 2012 and from May to July 2011.

Research project

Picturing Constitutional Law: Law, Politics and Publicity in India

This project explores the production, consumption and circulation of prolific pictures of constitutional law in India. Specifically, the focus is on moments of legitimation crises which re-orient the symbolics of the very validity of constitutional interpretations of freedom, belonging and dignity. How do we then tell the story of constitutional law and its discontents through pictures? Does the visual archive of constitutional law offer us newer ways of thinking about law and politics? Do we think of the visual language of constitutional law by referring to jurisprudential images of justice as virtue? Should we then identify images of constitutional law through official iconography of appelate courts—buildings, emblems, statues, symbols and portaits to narrate the visual history of constitutional law? Or should we look at the archive of images of justice as struggle that locate the demosprudential at the heart of constitutional law? This project looks at at a series of images to argue that the visual is central to the question of legitimation and validity of law in the changing political and legal cultures in India today. The relationship between law, politics and publicity, is explored at three registers. First, the juxtapostition of courts and protests in protest photographs and footage narrates a specific visual history of demosprudence. How does the visual citation of iconic photographs of justice as struggle tells us a visual story of law’s fraught relationship with social suffering? Second, I explore the modes of visual literacy that the judiciary adopts in the contexts of hyper-visualised circuits of publicity that re-orients the symbolism of what it means to express freedom, belonging and dignity. Does the judicial method of reading and citing images as if the image stands for the real and the authentic blur the distinction between the popular and juridical? How does the photograph supplant the word in a judgment? Do the streaming television screens in court canteens, twitter feeds and facebook posts on smart phones and newer forms of court reportage intersect, co-exist or exist parallelly to court proceedings? Third, how do judges (sitting or retired) use new social media to direct publcity to critique judicial interpretation of constitutional law and what are the effects of such publicity? Does publicity about constitutional law, judgments and judges produced by the legal profession meet regulation? What lies at the limits of freedom of speech and where does contempt begin? Does the use of twitter or facebook by the legal profession re-define these limits? In other words, how central is publicity to law and politics, or the craft of legal profession in India today?


  • Public Secrets of Law:  Ethnography of Rape Trials in India, Oxford University Press, New Delhi
  • Justice is a Secret: Compromise in Rape Trials, Contributions to Indian Sociology Volume 44 (3) (forthcoming)
  • Adjudicating the Riot: Communal Violence, Crowds and Public Tranquility, Riot Discourses (Mehta & Chatterji eds.), (New York: Domains Books 2009) (forthcoming)
  • Access to Justice and Rule-of-[Good] Law: The Cunning of Judicial Reform in India in Harsh Mander [ed] Nyayagrah: People’s Resistance for Justice, Notes on one experiment for legal justice in Gujarat after 2002 (forthcoming)  
  • (2009) Violence of Political Rhetoric on Rape: Commentary, Economic and Political Weekly, August 8, Vol. XLIV No. 32, 15-16